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Fight for the right to party
Published : 29 Aug 2010 10:42:16
Neil Lennon is challenging his players to up their game on the domestic front and stop feeling sorry for themselves. Neil Lennon has told his players they must fight hard if they are to stand a chance of wresting the SPL title away from Rangers after being too soft for the fight in Europe this time around. Lennon is demanding a response from his players in domestic competition when they resume their championship bid today with a trip to Motherwell. Lennon admitted his players now have "bruised egos " after their European battering, but wants them to dust themselves down and get stuck in at Fir Park. He said: "We've still got three trophies to challenge and compete for. The priority has always been the league. We have to make a real challenge for the league now. The defeat on Thursday night we can use as an incentive and a reminder, too, if at any point the players think they're better than they are. It starts on Sunday for us. We'll make the players aware of what's required. We'll go to Motherwell and take it from there. I still trust the players. The domestic performances have been pretty good, we've had setbacks before and they've responded in the right way so I'm looking for a similar response." Lennon is keeping calmer this time around to the significant European knockback which he has likened to being knocked out of the Active Nation Scottish Cup by Ross County at the semi-final stage. In the aftermath of that disappointing Hampden defeat, Lennon was openly critical of his players in public, but is playing it differently this time. He went on: "I won't make a kneejerk reaction. I did after Ross County because it was endemic of the season that had gone on before. This is a new team. I can't have too many opinions on the players yet. I've got a decent squad that can be in contention domestically. An overall collection of things went wrong against Utrecht. It's the manner we're conceding, it's poor, and the reaction to letting them in was poor. The overall performance was far from what I was looking for. It probably hurt more than Ross County because it's more my team now. It's players I've brought in so it does hurt more."